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US House of Representatives Nears Completion of Home Security Bill - 2002-07-26

A key congressional lawmaker Friday played down a dispute with President Bush over legislation to create the new Department of Homeland Security. As the Senate faced criticism from the president over its bill, the House of Representatives neared completion of its own legislation. Friday began with a warning from the president that he will veto any bill not providing maximum flexibility to manage 170,000 employees of the new department.

The veto threat was aimed at the emerging Senate bill.

But Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman said he was shocked and disappointed, saying Mr. Bush is getting 90 percent of what he asked for. "The bottom line is that the new department, as we have designed it, has the tools it needs to attract, maintain and reward top-flight talent, to protect our security," he emphasized.

The president denies his plan would undermine workers rights. But the issue also came up during debate in the House.

There, an amendment was defeated that would have denied the president power to waive civil service protections for national security reasons.

Senator Lieberman says there will be no change in the Senate version of the bill leaving the dispute with the White House, for now, unresolved.